TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For all his various talents on the basketball floor –and there are many, given the “glue guy” and “stat stuffer” monikers bestowed on him by coaches and teammates – Terance Mann’s best trait might be his ability to dunk the ball.
“He might be,” forward Phil Cofer said, when asked if Mann is the best dunker at Florida State. “He’s got a little bounce to him.”
“He’s alright,” guard Braian Angola said with a sly smile. “He thinks he is (the best), but he’s not.”
Georgia Tech might beg to differ.
Because, like the rest of the 9,879 in attendance at the Tucker Center on Wednesday night, the Yellow Jackets could only watch as Mann stuffed the basket with a pair of thunderous dunks on the way to a career-high 30 points and an 88-77 victory for Florida State.
The junior forward made 10 of 13 shots from the field, was 10 of 12 from the free-throw line and, just for good measure, led the Seminoles in rebounds (5) and assists (5) as they evened their conference record to 4-4 ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Miami.
“I was just attacking, attacking, attacking,” Mann said. “That’s how I want to be every game, but tonight it just played out well. Once you see the ball going through the net, you kind of just keep going.”
For Mann, the ball went through the net more than for any other Seminole in the last two years. Not since Xavier Rathan-Mayes dropped 30 on North Carolina in January 2016 had an FSU player reached the 30-point mark.
Mann is the fourth Seminole to accomplish the feat since the start of the 2010-11 season, joining Chris Singleton, Deividas Dulkys and Rathan-Mayes, who did it four times.
“He has improved in all areas,” Hamilton said. “He’s a guy who is moving the ball well, making (good) decisions, defending well and rebounding well. That’s what you like to see from a kid who is a die-hard Seminole.”
Florida State (15-5, 4-4 ACC) prides itself on its ability to win games by committee and have a different leading scorer on a nightly basis. More often than not, though, it’s Mann leading the charge. He’s led the Seminoles in three of seven ACC games in which he’s played (he missed one due to injury) and, early on Wednesday, teammates could tell that he was in for another big night.
“Pretty much from the start,” Angola said. “Just from warmups, you see the look in his eye. He’s ready to go. And when he looks like that, we just go straight back to him.”
Indeed, late in the first half, Mann almost singlehandedly turned what had been a close game into a lopsided affair.
With the Yellow Jackets (10-10, 3-4) holding a three-point advantage after an 8-3 run, Mann hit a jumper cut FSU’s deficit to one. He then went on to score 15 more points in the final 6:48 of the first half, a dominant stretch highlighted by both this:
— FOX Sports South (@FOXSportsSouth) January 25, 2018
MANN UP! #SCtop10
— FSU Seminoles (@Seminoles) January 25, 2018
By the time the horn sounded for halftime, FSU led 50-36, Mann had 21 points and had already made more free throws than in any single game of his career.
“He was terrific tonight,” Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “He was just kicking our butt and a lot of it was just straight line drives.”
Angola reached double-figures for an eighth consecutive game – a stretch which spans the length of FSU’s ACC slate so far – and was responsible for the 3-pointer that snuffed out any hopes of a Georgia Tech rally.
With the Yellow Jackets flirting with a single-digit deficit for much of the second half, Angola swung the game with a 3-pointer from the corner that came on the heels of an offensive rebound by Trent Forrest.
That sequence, which happened during an otherwise forgettable night on the glass for the Seminoles, stretched FSU’s lead to 13 points with 3:32 to play.
“I had to make something happen, and I did it,” Angola said. “At the moment, they were making a run. And we got that 3 and it was kind of a dagger for them.”
Added Pastner: “That was big. That was the nail in the coffin.”
In addition to heroics from Mann and Angola, FSU mostly overcame a 34-26 rebounding discrepancy by turning 16 Georgia Tech giveaways into 24 points.
Things were so bad for Tech, that Pastner after the game suggested that he might implement a policy of immediately benching players who are careless with the ball.
“We forced them into a lot of turnovers and it led to easy points,” Mann said.
With wins in three of their last four games, the Seminoles find themselves back at .500 in conference play headed into what will be a pivotal contest with Miami on Saturday.
The Hurricanes beat Louisville, 78-75, on Wednesday.
“This (win) is important,” Hamilton said. “Because we had kind of dug a little hole for ourselves, but that’s understandable. That’s the way it’s going to be (in the ACC). …
“We’ll look back on this season and we’ll realize that this was a very, very important game for us. Because these guys (Georgia Tech) are going to beat some people.”